[Melbourne] Operator25 is a chic café concept along Willis Street (near Flagstaff Gardens), and ideal hideout from the rest of CBD.

A unique feature of this café is the heritage-listed building it resides in.

Did you know it used to be the home of Melbourne’s first telephone exchange company?

The brunch café is contained in a historic 19th-century building – said to house Melbourne’s first switchboard, thus the interesting name as well.

The building’s rustic bricks, combined with modern furniture and floral décor add an industrial sleekness to the space.

Food wise, the menu is created by owner-chef Valerie Fong to elevate your brunching to a fine-dining level without the overly hefty price tag.

Chef Valerie teamed up with head chef Felipe Guedes to curate the menu at Operator25.

The menu is inspired by global flavours and features a range of creative dishes made from fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

Popular dishes include the Korean Fried Chicken Burger (AUD 25), Peking Duck and Waffle (AUD 27), Tom Yum Salmon (AUD 29), Teriyaki Mushrooms (AUD 23), and Miso Pork Benedict (AUD 24).

Try breakfast specials from the All-Day Menu like Soft Shell Crab Omelette ($26), an open omelette with fried soft-shell crab, Balado chili relish and herb oil on a multigrain toast.

It was a straight-forward brunch dish for me. The eggs were considerably fluffy, but I was perhaps expecting more. The crispy soft shell crab was delightful though.

The Miso Pork Benedict (AUD 24) which is pulled pork in red miso sauce on English muffins with poached eggs, green hollandaise and apple salad; and the vegan/dairy-free Teriyaki Mushrooms (AUD 23) with roasted mushrooms in teriyaki sauce, vegan ricotta, multigrain toast, wilted spinach, and fried enoki are also recommended.

And if really hungry, get the Korean Chicken Burger (AUD 25) with Korean fried chicken on charcoal burger bun, sweet and spicy glaze, lettuce and pickled daikon served with shichimi seasoned fries.

If you love sweet flavours, try the vegetarian-friendly Kaya French Toast (AUD 21) featuring coconut jam filled brioche served with berry coulis, fresh berries, salted peanut caramel sauce and boysenberry ice cream.

It seems like their menu changes regularly, as I previously saw a Ube Waffles online which was switched to the current Ube Hotcake (AUD 23).

The star of the dish is the Ube which is a purple yam commonly used in Filipino cuisine. The ube gave the hotcake a vibrant purple colour and a slightly sweet, nutty flavour.

The hotcake was then topped with a generous amount of mixed fresh berries, which added a burst of tangy sweetness to the dish.

The jackfruit with a sweet and slightly floral flavour, gave that bright yellow colour and tropical twist to the dish – clever.

To further enhance the dish, the hotcake is drizzled with white chocolate sauce, finished with a scoop of black sesame ice cream, which added an earthy flavour and richness.

Not bad overall, especially it is a dessert item you seldom see around.

For its coffee, Operator25 uses coffee beans from Code Black, as well as award-winning Cartel coffee.

Coffee by Code Black is available as Black or White (AUD 4.50) and add AUD 1 for Single Origin.

Fun ways to enjoy your coffee are Coffee Spritzer (AUD 6) made with cold filter coffee, and grapefruit sparkling water; Iced Biscoffee (AUD 9) using Biscoff sauce, espresso, milk, Biscoff cream & biscuit.

Or the kid friendly Peanutella (AUD 6) a fusion of peanut butter and Nutella chocolate milk.

As the brunch café is not far away from Queen Victoria Market, you may want to put this in your itinerary somewhere.


25 Wills Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun)

Google Maps – Operator25

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